Outside the Ivory Tower
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was here last year because my grades were kind of dropping,"
says Saatra Bishop, a seventh-grader at Foschay Learning Center
who aspires to become a pediatrician. "Now my grades are going
up. They're mostly A's and B's."
and pencils in hand, the students lean over math homework, spelling
tests, history, science and social studies books. Their UCLA tutors
alternately cruise the room and sit beside them, offering hands-on
counseling is just as valuable as tutoring, if not more, says Watson.
Armstrong, "Whatever you need to talk about problems
at school or home you can be open. It makes me feel good.
It lets out some of the stress and I can think."
helps that the SHAPE staff can relate on a personal level. "I
grew up in this neighborhood," says UCLA senior Brandi Holley,
who coordinates the program at the HSEC site. "I know what
it's like to hear gunshots at night, the police helicopters. There
are so many things they're dealing with."
main thing is to help the students set their own goals," says
Watson. "It's about taking baby steps. They might say, 'Well,
I want to take my C's and get a couple of B's.' Or, 'I want to play
basketball and need to keep a B average to do that.' It's the little
things that will affect the way they feel about school."
students like eighth-grader Donté Archie, those baby steps
are paying off. "Being here helps," he says. "I learn
quicker. They listen to us. Then they give us a break to talk and